Lent Devotion for February 25, Second Sunday in Lent
"A Humble Man"
Reader: "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?”
Response: "Hasn’t He also spoken through us?”
SCRIPTURE: Numbers 12:1-13
1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
This pericope is filled with complexities. It would appear we have some sibling rivalry. Moses was the baby of the family. Miriam and Aaron criticized their brother’s choice in a wife (never a good idea!) And they criticized her specifically for her race. She was not an Israelite. The general consensus was that she was an African from Ethiopia or perhaps Sudan. In the early 1990’s I had the opportunity to travel to northern Kenya and visit the nomadic Rendille tribe on the Kenya-Sudanese border out in the desert. They were of Cushite heritage and actually had the story of the Exodus in their oral history! Modern-day roots to 3400 years ago! The crabbing about Moses being the leader, the one to whom God spoke face to face, was set off by the woman he married. How often does a seemingly unrelated event trigger a blowup? What the siblings hadn’t realized was that God heard their complaints. We also learn of God’s view of Moses — the most humble man on earth. Can you imagine God saying that about you?! It says God immediately called a meeting of the three siblings. It is ironic that Aaron and Miriam complained that God spoke only to Moses. Now they got their wish, God was speaking to them! (Notice the appearance of the “cloud.”) Then the two complainers were called forth. I wonder what they were thinking at this point? God made very clear His feelings about Moses. He also confronted them with the fact that they disregarded a proper reverence for Himself, so much so that they were not hesitant to criticize the one God had chosen to lead His people. God was angry with them as the cloud lifted leaving Miriam with leprosy and skin as white as snow. Aaron repented for both of them. Moses prayed to the Lord and He healed Miriam of her leprosy. There is some irony here. Miriam was complaining to Moses about his dark-skinned wife. In her disease, Miriam’s skin grew whiter than white! What’s the lesson in this passage? One of them might be, God picks specific people for specific tasks as He unfolds His plan to bring redemption to the world. God has chosen you to bring a message of redemption to the people around you, even if you are sometimes criticized by those closest to you.
“Go Down Moses” by Moses Hogan Singers (Watch on YouTube)
O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to Thee and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see Thee but dimly. Be pleased to cleanse me in Thine own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Thee all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then shall I be prepared to behold Thee in full splendor in the day when Thou shalt appear to be glorified in Thy saints and admire in all them that believe. Amen.
- A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God, p.98